This is just one story of how to help a friend through heartbreak. This particular blogpost is not supported by proven psychological studies, it is anecdotal and about a friend’s story I heard recently that filled me with joy.
Siobhan was supposed to get married last Christmas. After 8 years together, a wedding dress paid for and 4 months til the big day, the relationship ended. Although she knew the break-up was the right thing for her, Siobhan completely accepted the date that would have been her wedding day would feel horrible. That date had meant something else, for so very long. She got through her work day, hoping to come home and just hide under the duvet, deflated. But her best friend Sarah had other plans. Upon arriving home, Siobhan walked into her room and got a massive surprise. Her room was filled with tea lights, Christmas decorations, and the aroma of lavender oil. On her bed was a beautiful box. A box covered in positive words and images, affirmations of love, acceptance, and kindness. Inside the box Siobhan found, among other things, a large vanilla candle, her favourite childhood chocolate, a “restoration and balance” tonic from a health food shop, a framed picture of a beautiful sunrise with the words “you are loved”, some camomile tea, a pedicure set and a lovely jar of Sarah’s homemade granola.
Remember the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie gets dumped via post-it note? Well if you haven’t seen it, Carrie gets all her friends together and vows that this will not be remembered as the day that she gets dumped via post-it. It will be a day of something else. So she gets all her friends to come out on a bender with her, and it forever, instead, becomes known as the day Carrie gets arrested for smoking a joint in public. Now, I’m not saying to go out and get stoned or drunk if you’re having a terrible day! But what I’m saying, is on momentous days – friends can be there to change the expectations of that date.
But here’s the real kicker. In the box, as part of a beautiful letter from Sarah about how much she loves Siobhan and is always here for her – was one simple demand. Siobhan must NEVER let the box run dry – this is her self-care box, and it must always be stocked for days where she needs to be extra kind to herself. Siobhan agreed. Firstly, she hasn’t even used up all these lovely, considerate gifts yet, but she has kept the promise, and when she sees a bath bomb, a nail varnish she loves, an interesting novel – into the box it goes. The box is always there, never empty, for days when Siobhan needs a reminder to be kind to herself. She deserves to have self-compassion and must practice self-care ALWAYS.
Anniversaries of deaths, heartbreaks, the loss of a beloved pet, job loss – of course this box won’t fill that void or fix that pain. But it will be a reminder that you are loved, and you deserve to be loving towards yourself. And Siobhan’s wedding day? It’s now a constant memory of the resources she has in her friends and within herself. She intends to always carry that on for herself with her self-care box. This knowledge is forever interlinked with that wedding day. It was only through talking about her ex with me that the subject of the self-care box came up. It truly seemed that she was more moved by this thoughtful and loving gesture than she was about the cancelled wedding. This is her over-riding memory of that day. It was so great to see and I felt I had to share her story.
The self-care box doesn’t have to be for someone else. Perhaps we should all start our own self-care boxes. It doesn’t have to be a stunning vintage style crate from Easons or TK Maxx (you know those ones with all the flowers and affirmations). A shoe box wrapped prettily, or plastered with magazine cut-outs of affirmations, (or maybe just lots of pics of Ryan Gosling) can be much more personal and moving. Whether you have €5 or €50, any size box can be filled to the brink. Especially if a large candle or tub of hot chocolate is the centrepiece!
Here’s just a few ideas, big and small, for a self-care package if you wish to gift it to someone going through tough times, or just because you love them, miss them, or just as importantly – for yourself.
No. 1 and most important – the letter making the promise that this care package is their responsibility now, and they must always keep it stocked to some degree. Always! We must never let our well of self-kindness run dry. The box as metaphor is so important.
Sweets, biscuits, chocolate! Or for the healthier minded, nuts, seeds, nutrition bars. Healthy eating is never a bad idea, so maybe mix and match for balance. A packet of chocolate covered nuts along with some haribo!
Candles. Even a couple of scented tea-lights
Aromatherapy oils and lotions
An adult colouring book
A book of positive quotes (the Little book of Calm never goes out of style)
Teas, lots and lots of teas! Camomile for calm and sleep, peppermint for invigoration and digestion. Speak to the folks in healthfood shops for recommendations.
Magnesium capsules are great for stress, but if this is too pricey maybe an own brand multivitamin from boots or tesco.
Framed pictures of pretty affirmations you can print off from google images, or photos of friends together. OR a picture of this person doing something great on their own!
Journals, diaries, notebooks – you can get gorgeous filigree ones for €15 upwards in booksellers, online or in TK Maxx, or you can get plain paper ones just as cute in Tiger for a quid. And remember – you can always decorate with magazine cut-outs. (I recommend Psychologies Magazine, but that’s about €7, so read it all and make use of it first!)
That reminds me – Psychologies magazine! It’s not for people working in the arena, it’s basically a self-help magazine for everyone. Think women’s mags (although it’s non-gendered which is great) with only the positive articles and no supermodels flogging make-up and sequined skirts. Imagine that?! It’s also perfect for vision boards, which I’ll blog on soon.
Pampering products – face-masks, bath bombs, foot salts, hand creams – the list is endless.
Vouchers for massage, facials or meals out. (Dealpages.ie has all the Irish citydeal type websites in the one place).
But if a fiver is out of your price range at the moment – here’s a completely cost free idea in the same vein.
An affirmation jar!
A big ole jar – fancy mason or a free old jam jar – filled with notes of why this person is AWESOME. You can mix it with tips on feeling good. Examples include:
“Take a long bath”
“Watch dogs/ cats on youtube for minimum 10 minutes” (Baby otters are my thing right now)
“Inhale for 7seconds, hold for 7, exhale slowly til your stomach is fully empty – repeat 20 times”
“Listen to your favourite album”
“Cook something you’ve never cooked before”
“Download a mindfulness or meditation podcast”
“Buy yourself flowers”
You can search affirmation jars on Pinterest or Google for more ideas. The options are endless and can be tailored to your friend, for yourself, whoever the jar is for.
We can’t heal our loved ones broken hearts, no matter how much we wish to. But we can be there. We can support them. We can remind them that they are enough, and by practicing self-care, the difficult days before “this too shall pass” may be just that much more bearable. Happy shopping and/or crafting 🙂